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Roses and thorns: 1/22/12




A rose to Border Springs Baptist Church Deacon John Dodson and Columbus Police Lt. Wayne McLemore, who organized a meeting Thursday night between local law enforcement agents and Caledonia residents concerned about the uptick in crime. More than 200 people attended, and thanks to a stellar lineup of speakers and an attentive audience, a great deal was accomplished in a short amount of time. 


Newly elected Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge talked about the rash of burglaries in the area since December. District Attorney Forrest Allgood answered questions about the responsibilities and legalities of gun ownership. Lowndes County Sheriff's Office community relations expert Tammy Prescott distributed safety-tip leaflets and explained how to establish neighborhood-watch programs. Columbus Facebook Watch Group Administrator Lynn Nordquist signed women up for gun safety classes. 


And a bouquet of roses to the people who came to ask not, "What can you do for us?" but, "What can we do for ourselves?" 


Crime is not just a police problem; it's a community problem. But it's important to be smart and be safe. Vigilante justice is not the solution, and neither is panicked reaction. Thursday night's calm, reasoned approach was encouraging, and we hope to see the meetings -- and the mentality -- spread. 




Roses to Jessica Peterson, founder of The Southern Letterpress, and traveling artisan Kyle Durrie, who brightened a dull day with their infectious enthusiasm and willingness to share the gift of art with everyone who happened to stroll downtown Wednesday afternoon. 


Peterson and Durrie are part of a widespread effort to preserve the ancient art of letterpress printing. From the mid-15th century until the 19th century, letterpress printing was standard, utilizing "movable type" -- individual letters, numbers and characters cast from blocks of lead or wood -- to create printed text. It's exacting, labor-intensive and -- for those of us who spend our days glued to computers -- surprisingly fun. 


Many cities, like Northport, Ala., hold a monthly Art Night. Imagine if downtown merchants displayed local art in their shops, inviting the artists for open houses each month. Imagine hands-on events like the free Valentine-making workshop Peterson is hosting Feb. 2. Imagine photography shows and book signings. Imagine strolling from one activity to the next, enjoying the fruits of our creatively blessed region and the charm of a pleasant evening downtown. 


Can you picture it? We can. And we like what we see. 




A rose to Columbus bluesman Joe Shelton, whose song, "The Older I Get, The Better I Was," was nominated for Blues Song of the Year by the Blues Foundation. The Blues Music Awards, which will be presented in Memphis, Tenn. May 10, are the equivalent of the Grammys for a blues artist. We wish Shelton luck. 




Roses to Starkville drummer Marv Dahlgren, Mississippi State University music professor Robert Damm and MSU student J.C. Long for hosting a local "Hunger Beat Down" last week. The trio joined drummers from around the world who simultaneously played a drum solo to raise awareness for world hunger. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 925 million people around the world are malnourished. Many are children. 


In the 1980s, hunger relief efforts were in the news every day. But the issue seems to have fallen off people's radars, Dahlgren said. He knew he wouldn't be able to organize a large-scale fundraising effort, so he decided to raise awareness instead. 


For Long, it was personal. While deployed in Iraq, he witnessed children cleaning floors just to earn money to buy food. The desperate poverty moved him. 


"If you saw children on the street like that over here, you'd ask why they're not in school," Long said. "But hunger's in our own backyard. It's just a lot harder to see it." 


As the saying goes, you can't do everything, but everyone can do something. 


Volunteer at one of the many food pantries in the Golden Triangle, like Loaves and Fishes in Columbus. Donate canned goods or non-perishable items. Take a hot meal to someone who needs it -- and stick around to talk with them as they eat. 


There are many forms of hunger, and sometimes the hunger for companionship is as powerful as any nutritional deficiency.



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